I have mentioned in past blogs that there is a bigger Loop than the Sierra Madre-Rizal. This is the Rizal-Laguna-Quezon Loop. Totaling to around 200 kilometers, this is probably one destination here in the country with the most number of climbs combined in a 200 km circle (except maybe an extreme route in the Cordilleras). The Loop starts at the corner of Marcos High-way and Imelda High-way (which is actually part of Metro Manila) all throughout Infanta which is considered Marcos Hi-way end to end (I have written a separate blog on this) passing through the towns of Marikina, Cainta,
Antipolo, Tanay, Sta Maria, Real, Infanta, Real, then Infanta (yes its not a typo). The way back to complete the big circle is via Famy and then the well known Bugarin Loop so from Infanta, Real, Famy, Siniloan, Mabitac, Pililia, Tanay, Baras, Morong, Cardona, Binangonan, Angono, Taytay, Cainta and back. The good thing is; you can actually decrease the loop by the presence of alternate bypasses like the Morong to Teresa to cut it shorter or via Tanay Sampaloc, even decreasing it further or even Sta Maria Laguna to almost cut the loop by half.
This October, we had an opportunity to try it out. The original plan was to do it in two days, staying in Infanta for the night before finishing the route back. Eventually we felt that it was doable in a day if we cut it from Tanay Sampaloc (as we are not fond of riding the polluted roads of the towns near Manila) so the plan was changed to a mega epic day ride- a decision we’ll later find out as impossible to mere mortals like us.
Here was the original plan:
We started out at around 5:30 AM parking at Morong DPWH- the usual parking for weekend bikers. Since we are not really sure if this is doable, we employed a SAG vehicle. Our starting phase was a bit faster for an epic ride as we need to buy more time to enable us to finish the route. We reached the top of Bugarin at about 8AM- one mountain down, two to go. We then next tackled the Famy-Sierra Madre pass. The second climb made us hungry so an early brunch was in order. After the thrilling descent, we reached Real Quezon by 11AM. Our plan seemed to be doable after all. We had our lunch at Infanta and after a few minutes of rest we started the last mountain climb, but the longest nonetheless- the Marcos-Hiway. I was not a bit wary since I have done this route for the 3 times already. But the third mountain took its toll and most of us were already strained. The climb seems unbearable. At 120km mark- some of us just rode back on our SAG (lesson learned- don’t do it without training as most of us have not ridden for quite some time- or better yet- do not under estimate the mountain). Another factory maybe that Jariel’s Peak was already calling us to start our socials. Lea rode for another 20 kms before joining us at Jariel’s Peak.
But part of our plan was true! It was still doable- the fittest among the group- Raffy and Mau was able to finish the entire loop (back at Tanay) by around 9PM. 160 kms all in all, more than 40% uphill- that’s the trimmed loop from Tanay to Tanay.
It maybe too extreme so for mere mortals- the advise is still the same- do it in two days unless you are not only fond of suffering, but the dark and chasing dogs as well.
After that epic ride- a celebration was in order.